The Brightest spots on Cedar Avenue

IMG_0707BY ED FELIEN

In Scandinavian countries people paint their houses bright colors to contrast with the bleakness of winter.  Minnesotans generally paint their houses white, and sometimes the unrelieved whiteness of winter can become overwhelming.  That’s why it is such a treat to drive down Cedar Avenue and see the colorful murals on buildings.  They have the warm and friendly look of civilization about them.
One of the more interesting and exotic murals has Aztec allusions.  It’s on the south wall of the law offices of DeLeon and Nestor at 36th and Cedar.  Susana DeLeon explains the mural:  “The mural ‘Duality of Life’ was painted by Santos Molina Garduno, a Mexican artist from Santa Cruz, Atizapan, Mexico. It was painted in 2008 as a tribute to Tlahuizcalli de la Rosa, a wonderful woman who was like my twin sister and who sadly passed away in 2005 along with three other dancers.  The picture depicts the duality of life emerging from the mother earth. The bottom has a crocodile type figure that represents the mother earth from which all is born. On the left we have the day meeting the night, and in its twilight, the two energies facing each other in respect, as they know the importance of one another for the world to be in balance. The cactus on the right is giving its precious liquid to nourish the child who represents the hope and renewal of all our lives.”
On the corner of 35th and Cedar, in front of the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization office, there is a very interesting and lovely painted utility box.  Utility boxes have long been the target of taggers—a canvas for graffiti that can demoralize a neighborhood.  But taggers have the decency to respect fellow artists and they generally leave utility box art alone.  So, we have hope and beauty to help us through the winter rather than depressing obscenities.
Neighborhood organizations or other groups may apply to place artworks on city utility boxes.  There is a long application form, but most applications are approved.  The city says: “One of the main purposes of the review process is to educate applicants about technical issues that need to be addressed in order for their projects to be successful. The Arts Commission and its Public Art Advisory Panel often make recommendations to the applicant for strengthening their projects, including ideas for:
*Maintenance, to ensure projects have a longer life span;
*Avoiding damage from maintenance equipment and vandalism;
*Addressing public safety and handicapped accessibility;
*Supporting artists’ copyrights;
*Developing projects at a scale that is do-able.”
The city does not provide funding, but it requires the artist to submit a budget so they can be confident that the project will be completed.
IMG_0676Certainly the most ambitious mural on Cedar Avenue has to be the unfinished mural on Dave Bicking’s Peace and Justice Building at 4200 Cedar.  There will be a final Community Painting Day on Saturday, July 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. to finish the mural.  The Anti-War Committee has been organizing the event: “Last chance to help out with this amazing, fun project! We had to cancel our last painting day due to rain, but we still want your help. We will be out there again, and all are welcome. Thank you to everyone who has helped paint so far. Please share this event with your friends. We are hoping one final push will get this thing done, and with your help we can do it!  The Anti-War Committee is housed in this building and encourages our supporters to be a part of this exciting project!”
Some of the other activities at the Peace and Justice Center include:
Second Monday Movies sponsored by Women Against Military Madness.  This month’s feature is “Spanish Lake” on Monday, July 13, at 7 p.m. “Spanish Lake” is a bold and uncompromising documentary focused on economic oppression in the suburb of Spanish Lake, Mo. (a town eight miles from Ferguson). The themes of the film parallel America’s growing political divide, underlying racism, and the rise of anti-government sentiment. Free admission, free, fresh popcorn. All welcome for a lively discussion following the film.  Endorsed by Vets for Peace, Chapter 27.
There will be a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon to support the fabulous work happening by the Welfare Rights Committee!

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